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Right-wing media and GOP figures are claiming Twitter/X owner Elon Musk is the victim of political persecution

Elon Musk has won favor with right-wing personalities for his takeover of Twitter

The Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating Tesla over accusations the company used funds to build a private residence for CEO Elon Musk, and the DOJ is also suing SpaceX for alleged discriminatory hiring practices. In response, several prominent GOP and right-wing media figures are claiming that the Biden administration is seeking revenge for the right-wing favorable approach Musk has taken in his leadership of Twitter (now known as X) and selectively targeting Musk rather than others, like Hunter Biden.

  • The DOJ and SEC are investigating Musk’s use of Tesla funds to build a private residence

    • On August 30, The Wall Street Journal reported that the DOJ and SEC had opened investigations into Elon Musk. The investigation centers on the alleged misuse of Tesla funds to pay for a glass house in Austin, Texas. [The Wall Street Journal, 8/30/23]
    • The Journal had reported on July 11 that Tesla board members opened an internal probe into Musk. The board is investigating Musk's alleged use of company funds to build a personal residence after large orders were placed for specialized glass panels. [The Wall Street Journal, 7/11/23; Business Insider, 07/21/22]
  • The DOJ sued SpaceX for allegedly discriminatory hiring practices

    • On August 24, the DOJ filed a lawsuit against SpaceX for discriminating against refugees and asylum-seekers in hiring. The DOJ lawsuit alleges that SpaceX falsely claimed in job listings that it could hire only permanent residents and U.S. citizens to be in accordance with “export control laws.” [Department of Justice, 8/24/23]
    • Elon Musk defended SpaceX, claiming that he was told that hiring nonpermanent residents would violate international arms trafficking laws. Musk has also claimed that the lawsuit represents what he sees as the “weaponization of the DOJ for political purposes.” However, the DOJ has asserted that the specific laws Musk cited as barring him from hiring migrants and asylees do not impose limits on who can work with sensitive materials. [Reuters, 8/25/23; Texas Public Radio, 8/25/23]
  • Right-wing media claimed the Biden administration is seeking “revenge” on Musk and targeting him rather than others like Hunter Biden

    • After the lawsuit against SpaceX was announced, Fox News host Jesse Watters claimed that the Biden administration was seeking “revenge” on Elon Musk for purchasing Twitter. Watters went on to falsely claim that the DOJ was suing Musk “because he would not hire illegal immigrants,” as opposed to nonpermanent residents. [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 8/24/23]
    • Later that week, after the Tesla investigation was announced, Watters dismissed the potential misuse of company funds as an elaborate joke on Musk’s part before doubling down on his assertion that Biden is seeking revenge. Regarding the planned personal residence, Watters commented: “Knowing Musk's sense of humor, the project’s probably a lark. What’s that euphemism about throwing stones? We don't know. But we have a hunch these investigations have less to do about glass houses and more to do with Biden exacting revenge on Musk for buying Twitter.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 8/30/23]
    • Conservative radio host and Fox News contributor Tammy Bruce claimed that the Biden administration was “picking and choosing” who to investigate and “targeting” Musk and Donald Trump rather than the Bidens. She remarked that “I think what — the optics here are very interesting when it comes to the timing with the argument that the federal government is picking and choosing. That, no, they are not looking at the Biden situation, as an example. Donald Trump, though, has got, you know, 91 charges against them, indicted four times. And then a man, Elon Musk, who also challenges the status quo, did not make a lot of friends on the left when he bought Twitter, which is now X. And so you — we see these kinds of targeting approaches from the federal government, and of course the trust in the federal government at this point, especially the Department of Justice, continues to decline.” [Fox News, The Faulkner Focus, 8/25/23]
    • National Pulse Editor-in-Chief Raheem Kassam posted that “Biden DOJ’s Sues SpaceX, Elon Musk for Hiring TOO MANY American Workers.” [Twitter/X, 8/25/23]
    • Right-wing commentator Ian Miles Cheong claimed the DOJ’s actions against Musk were “entirely politically motivated due to his opposition to the censorship regime.” He said there’s “no other explanation” for the investigation and lawsuit. [Twitter/X, 8/30/23]
    • Anti-woke crusader Richard Hanania called the DOJ’s lawsuit “selective prosecution,” describing civil rights laws as “tyranny.” His post read: “DOJ sues SpaceX for discrimination against refugees. Civil rights law is tyranny because it uses statistical evidence. Everyone will hire ‘too few’ of something. Hence selective prosecution of an Elon Musk company. This system must be abolished.” [New York magazine, 8/12/23; Twitter/X, 8/24/23]
    • Right-wing social media personality Amuse opened a post on the topic with the word “WEAPONIZATION.” He added: “Biden's DOJ is now investigating @elonmusk and Tesla for planning to build a glass house. Talk about glass houses, Mr. Biden.” [Twitter/X, 8/30/23]
    • Right-wing personality and frequent Musk defender Collin Rugg claimed in a social media post that Musk was being targeted. He ended his post by teasing, “Imagine if the DOJ went after Hunter with the same intensity as they do with Elon and Trump.” [Twitter/X, 8/31/23]
    • Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton falsely claimed that the Biden administration wanted to imprison Musk for “opposing their censorship mania.” He added: “ALERT: Now that their efforts to jail @RealDonaldTrump are well under way, Biden regime trying to figure out a way to put in @ElonMusk in jail in retaliation for opposing their censorship mania.” [Twitter/X, 8/30/23]
  • GOP figures have similarly rushed to Musk’s defense

    • Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) shared an article about the SpaceX lawsuit and captioned the post “Alternate headline: ‘DOJ sues @elonmusk for hiring too many Americans.’ Weaponization of government!” In another post, he claimed that federal agencies were “attacking” Musk “because he stood up for the First Amendment.” [TwitterX, 8/25/23, 8/25/23]
    • Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) accused the DOJ of “going after Elon Musk.” She went on to warn, “if you’re a prominent person who is pushing against the mainstream narratives, Biden will use the government to go after you.” [Twitter/X, 8/24/23]
    • After accusing the DOJ of “targeting” Musk for “hiring Americans,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) claimed, “When somebody goes against the Biden Regime, they find themselves being prosecuted!” In a second post, he would similarly, yet falsely, accuse the DOJ of forcing Musk “to hire illegal aliens.” [Twitter/X, 8/28/23, 8/28/23]
    • Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) falsely accused the DOJ of not investigating Hunter Biden’s activities in a social media post. He posted: “The DOJ may not have the time or inclination to go after Joe and Hunter Biden’s blatant corruption, but they sure will punish Elon Musk for hiring too many Americans.” [Twitter/X, 8/24/23]